Networking or Notworking?
If you were to swap the “e” in the word networking to an “o”, you would create a very different word. It’s only a small change, just one letter. It makes a huge difference.Photo - Networking people (smaller size)
To be a successful “networker” takes regular effort. You have to work at it. The clue is in the name. Networking. Most of the success you have in your career will come from finding the right balance between your technical skills and building quality relationships.
This article gives you 3 tips on how in 2015 you can become a better Networker.
Would you rather have 2500 online followers or a close, quality network of 20 people? What about having both? I think that you can. Online networking or social networking is a new player in the ancient art of networking. It needs to be a small part of your networking strategy. However, please don’t make the mistake I see a lot of my clients making of ignoring traditional face to face networking skills.
When I started NRG Solutions in March 2005 I knew that I would have to work very hard to build my business. I was given excellent advice from a number of people that I respected that I would need to build my network, maintain it and then slowly grow it. I have made a very conscious effort since day 1 at NRG to act on that advice.
Most of the work I do now comes through referrals from my network. I continue to make every effort that I can to stay in touch with my contacts, providing them with ideas that they might value. I’m also always looking to grow my network.
As you start to work out your plan for 2015 you will have to make some decisions about your networking. Who’s in? Who’s out? How can I clean up my online contacts? Who annoys you with their self-promoting posts? Who adds a few drops of sunlight into a gloomy day? Who would I like to hear more from, who less from and who not at all from? You can control all of this with just a few simple clicks.
If you choose to make no decisions about networking, then the chances are very high that your network at the end of this year will be remarkably similar to how it looks now. Spending large amounts of time on social media is perhaps for some of you a part of your networking strategy. I’m still far from convinced that your online connections and activity are as valuable as face to face or at least telephone communication. Humans historically have responded very well to face to face contact. We are social animals. Bunkering in and tweeting away or observing others tweets should only make up a maximum of 20% of your networking time.
3 steps to becoming a better networker:
To be successful as a networker I believe you only need to focus on 3 things. If you do these 3 things regularly you will build a powerful network.
1. Be interested in other people.
If you are not really interested in others it will be very difficult to succeed in business, or for that matter in life. The best networkers genuinely are interested in meeting a broad range of people. They get their energy from other people and enjoy the excitement of social interaction. They focus on other people’s needs, whilst quietly and confidently articulating their own. They know the importance of remembering small details on the people they meet. They work hard at remembering people’s names. If you feel awkward meeting new people and feel that you might be lost for words you might like this way of remembering questions to ask them. GOLF.
G is for geographical questions. Where are they from? Where did they grow up? Go to school? Live now?
O is for questions about their occupation. What type of work do they do? Why do they do what they do? How did they get in to that type of work? (Personal favourite)Who are their clients? How do they attract the right types of clients?
L is for likes outside of work. Are they keen on surfing, fine food, reading, travel etc?
F is for family situation (if appropriate). Do they have kids, what ages, sexes, names, hobbies etc.
2. Make an effort to keep expanding your contacts
Go to different events. Keep turning up. Read widely. Think laterally. People like people who are like them. How well do you know your hairdresser, lawyer, leg waxer, religious congregation, plumber, IT person, electrician, other parents at school, fellow golf club members? Do they know what you do for a living? Can you assist them in some small way? Offer to volunteer?
If you meet 2 new people per week and add them to your contacts / data base that’s 104 new contacts at the end of the year.
3. Find creative ways of staying in touch
There is no easy solution here. Some of you reading this now may have worked with me 10 years ago. I’m back on your mind now as you are reading something that might be of value to you. Some people you might have a coffee with from time to time. Invite someone to an event. Send them a link to something appropriate. Comment on a comment they made on social media. Just keep it up. Like flossing your teeth.
For a relationship to be effective, you can’t just ignore people. Ignoring really doesn’t work. Stay in touch regularly. However, like an amber light, approach with caution. Do it too often and you’ll be in danger of becoming a pest. It’s a fine line. Walk it carefully.
It’s a myth to think you have to be an extrovert to build a powerful network. Develop a process and stick with it. A powerful and supportive network will help you more than almost anything else this year with your career and in your personal life. Reach out. Be brave and get in touch with your contacts. Look to help them wherever possible.
Most people understand the law of reciprocation. If you have people in your network who don’t, here’s some special advice for 2015. Get rid of them.